Carrying On A Family Business

Eye on KELOLAND

You probably know of at least one family business in your hometown, but maybe not one with a story quite like a family owned bar in KELOLAND.

In the early afternoon, Kristen Kozak spends her time getting ready to open her new business west of Yankton. 

“It’s been pretty busy, better than we expected right away so a lot of the locals have shown up and supported us,” owner, Kristen Kozak said.

Kozy’s Bar is a familiar spot for the community and Kristen’s family. 

“We all grew up here, my dad’s friends kids and I, it was way different back then, times have changed, and everyone hung out in the bar, it was different, but hung out and played pool and video games, stuff like that,” Kristen Kozak said.

Her grandpa, Lawrence Kozak originally owned the bar nearly 20 years ago.

“I opened this up August 5, 1972 and I was there 28 years and I turned 69 so I figured it was time to retire,” Kristen’s grandpa, Lawrence Kozak said.

After Lawrence Kozak retired, he sold it.

“It changed hands a couple times before it came back into our hands, two different owners, and was out of the family for 18 years,” Kristen Kozak said.

Now the Kozy bar is back in the Kozak family.

Kristen bought the bar in April of 2017, and reopened it about two weeks ago.

“I’ve actually been bartending since I was 20, started in Nebraska and I learned the business and thought it was a good opportunity to take,” Kristen Kozak said.

However, it’s taken a lot of work to get the bar back to looking as it does now. Kristen’s dad Gary, has helped a lot.

“Said she was seriously thinking about it and I said do you know how much work we have to put into that place, she didn’t really come out and say it but I could tell she was thinking dad that’s why I have you,” Kristen’s dad, Gary Kozak said.

From tearing up and replacing the floors to countless hours spent getting the bar to look just right, with the help of family and friends the project came together.

“I knew there was going to be a lot of work involved and tearing stuff out and replacing stuff that was either rotten or worn or just to update, did I think it was going to take a year? Yeah, I did, I didn’t tell anyone that because I wasn’t sure how much work we were going to have but family and friends pitched in and it went pretty well actually,” Gary Kozak said.

The bar is located just west of Yankton, and the family hopes to bring back some familiar faces from years past, as well as some new ones.

“When my grandpa owned it he drew in a lot of the locals and I know it’s a new generation and I know there’s more people and more housing developments so I’m hoping to do the same,” Kristen Kozak said.

“The population in this area is a lot more than it was back in the 90s so the population has grown quite a bit out here, so I think it’s going to be a good thing for everybody out here, people won’t have to travel as far to get what they want,” Gary Kozak said.

A family business, brought back to the family.

“I know my dad is happy about it, he couldn’t believe it when we first told him, we told him on his birthday of 2017, and I think it took a bit for it to sink in, but once he realized it was a reality, then he was up and running with it too, really excited,” Gary Kozak said.

“It’s good, it’s almost like we can pick up where we left off and continue the memories,” Kristen Kozak said.

Kristen says eventually they will be serving food at the bar and even start pool and dart leagues. 

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